The successful series Law & Order was based on stories “ripped from the headlines.” In this article, I continue my writings on adaptive case management by focusing on how it is being applied in the government sector to serve the public good. I think you’ll find these case management stories worthy of the great Law & Order franchise. 

In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.  - Law & Order

Connecting the DOTS with Case Management

Adaptive case management can be extremely effective in situations where events drive the process. Consider DOTS -- the DNA Offender Tracking System -- and the impact it has had on solving current crimes and cold cases for California’s Los Angeles County (LAC). This case management deployment helps guide the collection of DNA samples from offenders at allowable points, enforcing justice while ensuring due process without violating constitutional right. It has significantly improved both communication between agencies and the quality of the complex DNA collection tracking process itself.

By way of background, several years ago California passed Proposition 69 to expand the collection and use of criminal offender DNA samples to help solve crimes and increase public safety. Proponents of the proposition hold that requiring convicted felons and arrests for rape or murder to submit DNA helps solve crimes and prevents false imprisonment. In LA County, the responsibility to collect DNA samples from eligible offenders is shared among 40 law enforcement agencies. Faced with more than 1,200 criminal arrests every day, as well as more than 21,000 incarcerated inmates, LA County uses DOTS to provide an automated, collaborative, and rules-driven way to identify and determine a suspect or inmate’s DNA collection status, while assuring legal compliance with the DNA collection eligibility legislation.

Before DOTS, when a DNA sample was collected, officers completed an accompanying paper card, which took 30 minutes and might have inconsistent or illegible information. The sample was then sent to the state, where it sometimes took a month to process and update the criminal history system. The lack of a centralized system led to duplicated work by officers and multiple DNA samples from suspects. Now, DOTS automates the DNA collection process and lets officers know immediately if an offender’s DNA is already in the system. DOTS helps to drive significant productivity for the officers while ensuring appropriate DNA evidence is available, providing a better way to collect, track, and also exchange and share DNA information with other state, local and federal agencies — truly connecting the DOTS!

"Going Green” with Case Management

Assuring justice for the nearly one million residents in the most densely populated county in the state of Florida requires personal dedication and the right technology. For the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court, that meant an adaptive case management solution that could serve the Clerk of the Court office, the courts, and the entire Pinellas County judicial system and its citizenry. 

Ken Burke, the Pinellas Clerk of the Court, was originally inspired to implement a case management solution by his vision to “go paperless.” Serving as the primary information collection department for the County’s judicial system, the Clerk’s office is instrumental in ensuring that the County courts efficiently serve their citizens. Transitioning from paper-based “cases” to an adaptive case management solution was a significant step, especially for a judicial culture that had been steeped in two hundred years of a paper-based legal system.

Before case management, much of the Clerk office staff time was spent dealing with paper — scanning it, processing individual pieces of paper or preparing the files, looking for missing documents, filing documents and then pulling case files and sending them to other locations. This slowed turnaround of documents critical to lawyers’ cases or judges’ rulings, and impacted all the stakeholders. Compounding the problem was lack of visibility to the priority of each request, resulting in less critical document requests sometimes being fulfilled ahead of more critical requests. In addition, attorneys were taking paperwork directly to the court for review and approval. And, once the court reviewed the files, these signed records might be taken home with the attorney and never come back to the court. Other times, a judicial assistant might bring it to the Clerk’s office, resulting in several days passing before the paperwork was properly processed.

Now with case management in place, submitted paperwork is immediately available for action to be taken as necessary, including electronic signature. Adaptive case management created a team-centric environment with collaborative access to court files, documents, tasks, deadlines, and threaded discussions from within a single virtual case folder, using an interface tailored to each individual’s roles and privileges. Case management has also helped Pinellas meet legislative mandates on e-filing and access to public records, ensured that all court files and supporting documents are securely available within the judicial system and to the public, and provided improved audit trails.

Since the case management solution went live, the paper, storage and transport costs have been significantly reduced -- a particularly important business impact in the current economic climate. The impact on service delivery has been impressive as well, freeing all of the stakeholders to focus on more value-added activities. Judges, attorneys, legal firms, staff, and the public can now immediately view entire case files and court records and all their supporting documents 24x7 from any computer, enabling better customer service to the judiciary and the public. 

LA County and Pinellas are just two of the public sector case studies where adaptive case management has been used to make a difference in our lives. Adaptive case management has enabled LA County to better serve the public interest by solving more of their cases, removing criminals from the streets and at the same time preventing false imprisonments. Pinellas has used case management to cut costs and save trees, “going green” while delivering a better way to support court collaboration.

There are many other notable government examples: in justice to track firearms, in social services to support assistance programs, in homeland security to assist with eFOIA requests, and in state and local governments to better respond to citizen requests -- all areas where less paper, improved collaboration, and better decision making are critical to success.

I would be interested in hearing additional reader examples of case management for government. And, watch for my next article when I’ll take a look at some new cross-industry techniques for adaptive case management.